Říj 12

‘Nurture Productive Aspects Of Cryptocurrency,’ US Presidential Hopeful Tells Senate

The US senator and potential presidential contender who suggested cryptocurrency “hurt” American families repeated concerns about the industry on October 11, saying it was “easy to steal.”


Warren Argues For Consumer Protection ‘Balance’

In a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Elizabeth Warren voiced fresh worry over the current regulatory climate in Washington, implying balanced rules should come into force.

At the same time, Warren poured scorn on ICOs, alleging “a lot of small investors” were being “scammed” by them, Forbes reports.

“The challenge is how to nurture productive aspects of crypto with protecting consumers,” the publication quotes her as saying.

Last year, Warren had claimed when US regulators turn their attention away from an emerging phenomenon in need of regulation, it was “American families” who “suffer” as a result.

“It was exactly that attitude at the Fed in the run up in the crash in 2008,” she said at the time. “The Fed had a lot of tools they could have intervened, but they sat there on their hands and said, ‘Let the market go forward.’”

Elizabeth Warren

Roubini Has No Time For Cryptocurrency

The Senate hearing meanwhile has already become infamous in cryptocurrency circles following comments from economist and famed naysayer Nouriel Roubini, who delivered what could be considered his most scathing appraisal of the industry yet.

“Crypto is the mother or father of all scams and bubbles,” he told the Committee as part of the prepared testimony.

“Especially folks with zero financial literacy – individuals who could not tell the difference between stocks and bonds – went into a literal manic frenzy of Bitcoin and Crypto buying.”

On ICOs, Roubini was also keen to espouse the view the industry was mostly legally dubious, using results of research published earlier this summer by Satis Group which concluded over 80 percent of such projects were scams.

“It would appear that ICOs serve little purpose other than to skirt securities laws that exist to protect investors from being cheated,” he concluded. 

What do you think about Elizabeth Warren and Nouriel Roubini’s appraisals? Let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Share
Zář 29

‘Nothing At All’ Going on With Crypto Regulation, Says D.C. Insider

Despite the growing importance of the cryptocurrency industry, the US government’s position on crypto regulation remains frustratingly opaque. According to a D.C. insider, a movement towards real regulation or greater regulatory guidance is still quite far away.


Regulatory Uncertain

Questions about how the government intends to regulate the crypto industry abound. For example, it is still unclear to many investors whether crypto regulation will ultimately come from the SEC or the CFTC.

While there remains no widespread movement in Washington towards reforming the crypto regulatory environment, there are encouraging signs that pockets of Congress are beginning to take interest in the cause.

Beginnings of Congressional Action?

On September 24th, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) hosted industry leaders from Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the crypto industry for a roundtable discussion on the crypto regulatory environment. Davidson’s roundtable, titled “Legislating Certainty for Cryptocurrencies,” was held at the Library of Congress. Roughly eighty thought leaders from the private sector attended the roundtable, with multiple members of Congress and their aids in attendance as well.

Davidson stressed the importance of industry being involved in crafting the government rules that will eventually govern the crypto space.

Congress

Congressional Letter to the SEC

Following the roundtable, Davidson and fourteen other Representatives issued a public letter to SEC chairman Jay Clayton requesting that the SEC issue clarification on whether Initial Coin Offerings are considered security sales. The Representatives used the letter to express concern that all tokens were being treated as securities, regardless of whether the designation was applicable or relevant. The letter stated:

Therefore, we believe is important that all policy makers work toward developing clearer guidelines between those digital tokens that are securities, and those that are not, through better articulation of SEC policy, and, ultimately through formal guidance or legislation.

The letter went on to express concern that existing guidance on SEC policy is being conveyed solely through enforcement action, leading market participants forced to try to divine SEC policy through the scope of its enforcement actions. The letter continued:

Additionally, we are concerned about the use of enforcement actions alone to clarify policy and believe that formal guidance may be an appropriate approach to clearing up legal uncertainties which are causing the environment for the development of innovative technologies in the United States to be unnecessarily fraught.

Legislstion

New Legislation Begins to Emerge

While no major legislation has been introduced to cover the crypto industry, U.S. Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) has introduced a slate of three bills designed to encourage support for the crypto industry. Emmer’s bills propose only minor changes to how cryptocurrency is regulated in the U.S.

Concerns about the regulatory status of various crypto projects have encouraged many entrepreneurs and firms to decamp to more stable regulatory climes. For example, Switzerland’s “light-touch” regulatory policy has fueled the dramatic growth of the industry in the country.

While it is encouraging to see the government finally begin to take interest in the crypto industry, the Congressional letter stressed that SEC guidance would take time to fully emerge and develop. Start-ups and entrepreneurs hoping for greater regulatory clarity will likely still have a long time to wait.

Will U.S. regulators eventually wake up? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter/@.

Share
Zář 15

SEC and Institutional Investor Backing: A Question of Custody

One of the last major hurdles to the widespread institutional adoption of cryptocurrency is the issue of custody — where to securely store all those high-paying clients’ assets. Fortunately, several companies are currently working on a solution to this piece of the puzzle.


A Universal Question

Custody is a question that perhaps anyone who has owned crypto has considered — or failed to at their own peril. I.e., Where am I going to keep my Bitcoin (BTC) 00 — or other tokens —safe?

In the early days, some were happy enough to leave their crypto in the safe hands of the exchange where it was bought. Until a series of high profile hackings highlighted just how untrustworthy those hands may be.

The crypto community possesses online desktop and mobile wallets, hardware wallets, and even paper wallets, depending on how sensible/paranoid we are. Now imagine dealing with millions of dollars worth of someone else’s money.

Assured Security

Institutional investors are accustomed to having their assets safely stored or FDIC insured. For institutions holding assets of over $150 million dollars, use of a third party custodian is an SEC requirement. So for larger companies, self-custody (managing their own private keys) is not even an option.

Smaller retail and family offices may utilize offline cold-storage methods or even keep assets on an exchange. But there is a clear need for some entity to fill the role of secure, regulated custodian. Managing private keys in the way that Wall Street custodians manage traditional asset classes.

Regulatory Scrutiny

One of the companies aiming to fill that niche is BitGo. Yesterday BitGo became the first regulated service for storing digital assets when it received a state trust company charter from the South Dakota Division of Banking.

https://medium.com/@mikebelshe

CEO and Co-founder, Mike Belshe said:

This is the missing piece for infrastructure — it’s a treacherous environment today… Hedge funds need it, family offices need it, they can’t participate in digital currency until they have a place to store it that’s regulated.

The Alternatives

Aside from BitGo, there are several companies vying for a place at the custodial table. They include Coinbase, Gemini, Ledger and ItBit, who are all developing solutions. Nomura partnered with Ledger and Global Advisors to announce plans for a custody solution in May. Even Goldman Sachs recently announced plans for their entry into the market.

An influx of institutional investors could be the exact boost the current crypto-market needs. For the SEC to get on board and realize this vision, there really is no alternative to a regulated custodian service.

What are your thoughts on custodial services in the crypto landscape?


Images courtesy of Medium, Shutterstock.

Share
Zář 11

Malta’s Push to Become a Global ‘Blockchain Island’ Seems to Be Working

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat classified Malta’s efforts to become a crypto and blockchain-friendly jurisdiction as a “calculated risk.” So far, work by authorities to turn Malta into a world leader for both industries looks to be paying off.


A variety of nations across the world have spent time investigating how they can control and manage the spread of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Malta has been moving in an encouraging direction for a while now.

A number of prominent exchanges, namely OKEx and Binance, have moved to the tiny Mediterranean nation. The Maltese Parliament was hard at work over the summer approving legislation concerning crypto and blockchain.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has also been very bullish when it comes to virtual currency. He remarked in April how cryptocurrencies are the “inevitable future of money.”

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has also been very bullish when it comes to virtual currency. He remarked in April how cryptocurrencies are the “inevitable future of money.”

When asked in a recent interview about the variety of steps the island has taken to become a blockchain and crypto powerhouse, Prime Minister Muscat noted efforts were “a calculated risk” to help further diversify the economy.

Aggressive Steps Forward

According to Prime Minister Muscat, part of this risk-taking includes slashing “layers of bureaucracy” and making it easy for entities in the blockchain and crypto world to come and set up shop in the country.

Malta has long been an attractive destination for digital companies due to the open stance of many government officials. Additionally, the island also features low tax rates, and the nation’s stock exchange is currently speaking to companies about listing virtual assets.

Officials are also collaborating with PricewaterhouseCoopers to roll out blockchain licenses for regulated entities. Parliamentary secretary Silvio Schembri said these would be issued in November.

All of these industry-friendly policies seem to be engendering a sense of optimism on the island, even if questions about future regulation are still up in the air.

In the interview, Prime Minister Muscat said how Malta is a trailblazer when it comes to regulations for the crypto world, and speculates the EU might one day be “doing what we are very much doing right here today.”

Michael Binanchi, chairman of the Founders Bank, toasted Malta as the “blockchain island” at a recent dinner.

The Road Ahead For Malta

 Some believe Malta’s open policies could continue to attract a variety of forward-thinking entities that could really shake up the financial world.

The Huulk digital exchange applied for a license in Malta in late August, and has a focus on attracting listings from fintech startups that are Sharia compliant. Ultimately Huulk is keen to list around 20 firms, many of which are located in nations like Turkey and Malaysia.

The ability to tap into religiously-sensitive investors across the world is thought to be a big opportunity for an exchange like Huulk, and for Malta

The ability to tap into religiously-sensitive investors across the world is thought to be a big opportunity for an exchange like Huulk. The same goes for Malta, especially since the nation’s Bianchi Holdings Limited would be an equity partner if the license is approved.

What do you think about Malta’s policies when it comes to crypto and blockchain? Can the island squarely position themselves as a global powerhouse for both industries?


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Pixabay, Shutterstock

Share
Zář 09

Intercontinental Exchange May Be a Blessing and a Curse

There are few traders who aren’t aware that the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) joined the cryptocurrency party several weeks ago. It turned into some of the biggest news of the year so far. What exactly does this mean for the crypto and global markets?


Don’t Trust Everyone With Your Money — Ask a Top World University.

Few institutions are more entitled to discuss technology than MIT. That’s exactly why the MIT Technology Review has just published a piece on this major event for both crypto and global markets. According to the Review, a mass of institutional investors in waiting for a sign to bring money to the table have just received the sign. Perhaps the ICE will provide just the controlled environment they needed in order to boost their confidence in cryptocurrencies.

However, a surprise may be in store as ICE attempts to apply the same rules used for financial markets to crypto. Yet, the two are fundamentally different. Don’t forget the roots of Bitcoin as an alternative to everything that money, banks, and finance represent: it is the opposite of many facets typically related to money and stocks. In fact, Bitcoin — and cryptocurrency as a concept —  solve many of the issues and anomalies presented by stock markets. Wall Street and blockchain savvy “evangelist” Caitlin Long explained why Bitcoin’s “perfection” can turn into a major disadvantage for those who treat it as a common stock or asset.

Cryptocurrencies Are the Answer Where the Stock Market Fails

Cryptocurrencies Are the Answer Where the Stock Market Fails

  • Cryptocurrencies are owned and managed by the trader him/herself, while stocks and assets are possessed by market mediators (e.g. exchanges), really;
  • Cryptocurrency transactions and related operations run on a distributed, (most often) decentralized ledger, and are therefore immutable. Wall Street companies can manipulate transaction/asset ownership in order to appear as if stocks were their own.
  • The blockchain solves the double-spending problem. When stocks, transactions, and markets are managed by centralized institutions, the trading process is exposed to a variety of technical vulnerabilities. Some are quite serious. MIT points out to the case of Dole Foods in 2015-2016 when the company apparently sold 33% more share than it actually had for sale due to a glitch in the trading process.

Remaining Optimistic

To end on a positive note, Long also pointed out the advantages this move will bring to the market in an earlier article in Forbes. Long thinks that ICE’s upcoming cryptocurrency exchange provides a solution to the custody issue encountered by big investors (managing >$150 million) who are required by the SEC to collaborate with a qualified custodian. The exchange will also add a certain degree of confidence, and a note of “mainstream adoption.”

Finally, the fact that cryptocurrencies solve some problems of stock markets may determine how companies raise their capital through ICO’s. “I doubt it will be very long before major corporate issuers join Telegram and Eastman Kodak in raising capital via these markets,” was Long’s conclusion.

What do you think about the possibility that cryptocurrencies will solve the problems encountered by the financial and stock markets? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Share
Zář 06

Goldman Sachs Pivots From Bitcoin Trading Desk to Custody Service

Goldman Sachs has announced that it is shelving its proposed plan to open a Bitcoin trading desk due to the uncertainty of the industry’s regulatory landscape. Instead, the financial giant says it will focus its efforts towards developing robust solutions for cryptocurrency custody.


Bank Says Regulatory Uncertainty to Blame for Decision

According to Business Insider, Goldman Sachs has removed the creation of a Bitcoin trading desk from its list of priorities. Inside sources say the bank may revisit such plans, but in the immediate future, Goldman Sachs has its sight on other ventures.

The news comes after months of speculation over when the bank would take the plunge and begin operating its cryptocurrency trading desk. Earlier in the year, a senior bank executive announced that Goldman Sachs would soon start offering Bitcoin trading services. At the time, such a statement was a sharp contrast from the bank’s less favorable cryptocurrency rhetoric.

Inside sources who elected not to provide further details saying the bank had to abandon its plan due to regulatory issues. According to them, Goldman Sachs was keen to avoid the risks associated with trading volatile cryptocurrencies.

Goldman Sachs logo

Focusing on Cryptocurrency Custodial Solutions

Despite shelving its proposed Bitcoin trading desk plan, the bank isn’t completely abandoning all of its interest in the industry. Instead, Goldman Sachs reportedly wishes to move forward with the roll-out of its cryptocurrency custodial service.

In May 2018, the bank became the first regulated financial institutions in the United States to offer Bitcoin futures trading. With the addition of custody services, the bank could potentially get ahead of the cryptocurrency curve as far as Wall Street is concerned.

Bitcoin Leads Cryptocurrency Market Pullback

Amidst the announcement from Goldman Sachs, the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has experienced a significant decline.

Amidst the announcement from Goldman Sachs, the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has experienced a significant decline. Moments after the news went public, the price of Bitcoin dropped more than $300 in ten minutes, while Ethereum plunged 12 percent.

This occurrence most likely is coincidental, especially given the events of Monday. Reports of large Bitcoin sums being moved by wallet were suspected of being connected to the defunct Silk Road dark web marketplace. It is also likely that the current price decline is due to mass profit taking at a price resistance level.

What do you think about the plan to increase the number of cryptocurrency ATMs in Greece? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


Image courtesy of CoinMarketCap.com, Shutterstock

Share
Zář 02

Anything Besides Bitcoin is ‘Useless’ – Tone Vays and Nouriel Roubini Square Off

David Drake, founder of LDJ Capital, was the moderator for a match up between Nouriel Roubini and Tone Hays. Drake was quick to note Roubini’s prediction of the 2008 economic crisis. 


In the discussion, Roubini notes that his experience in blockchain stems from his ability to see a bubble when it exists.

Vays responded with his outlook on the crypto space. Former trader Vays, now a speaker and prominent YouTuber, says he disagrees with Nouriel on the dysfunction of the crypto space. However, Vays maintains that anything besides Bitcoin 00 is ‘useless,’ and ‘anything else is scammy or fraudulent.’

Roubini placed a strong emphasis on the tension between institutions and regulations.

Vays went on to compare Bitcoin to nuclear waste — if you don’t know how to properly store it, disaster may strike. Vays still remains a devotee despite this apparent pitfall.

Roubini held fast, remaining extremely skeptical of crypto. Roubini emphasized numerous pump-and-dump schemes, as well as traders exchanging “shitcoins day in and day out.”

Roubini says that while 99.9% of cryptocurrencies will fail, Bitcoin is the only crypto that would exist should everything else go haywire. Tone Vays was quick to respond by noting the ‘unconfiscatable’ nature of Bitcoin — if stored correctly, as well as unconfiscatable value transfer.

Roubini quickly back that ‘it is not true they cannot be confiscated,” noting economists like U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin who worry that the currency may become the next ‘Swiss bank account.’ Roubini was extremely skeptical that any modern government, especially the Trump government, would tolerate the ‘anonymity’ associated with Bitcoin.

During the tail end of the dialogue, Roubini lit into crypto mining, saying that the centralization of mining is a hypocrisy in light of the crypto’s decentralized claims.

Neither party pulled any punches, and the match-up led up to a brief talk about mining centralization before wrapping up for good.

What are your thoughts about the Roubini-Vays match-up? Let us know what you think in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

Share
Srp 27

Iran: Central Bank Figure Hints Cryptocurrency Ban Will End In September

Iran will likely reverse its cryptocurrency ban in September, a central bank official told a conference August 26, paving the way for official regulation in the country.


Regulators Revisit April Exchange Block

The country, which introduced a blanket ban on trading in April this year, has since seen economic turmoil return to its economy in light of fresh US sanctions, its national currency losing a significant chunk of its value since.

Having previously signaled plans to create a national cryptocurrency, the Central Bank of Iran’s chief of innovative technologies Nasser Hakimi said regulatory attention would now shift to public crypto assets.

“The High Council of Anti-Money Laundering has imposed a ban in light of concerns over global allegations of money laundering and financing of terrorism. But it seems that after the government’s consideration, this blanket ban will be reviewed,” he told conference members quoted by local news outlet Financial Tribune and Eghtesad.

Iran Considers State-Issued Cryptocurrency Ahead of Imminent US Sanctions

Concerning the national crypto plans, Hakimi hinted these should also come to fruition, saying the project required “suitable and prevalent” support from authorities.

“National virtual currencies haven’t proved successful experiences in the world, but some economic officials have emphasized on this, so the Informatics Services Corporation has readied a test edition and some other entities are also cooperating in this,” he commented.

Crypto ‘Beyond The Financial Sector’

The government will meanwhile review the trade block in September, with the outcome reportedly set to acknowledge cryptocurrency’s increasing popularity and the ineffectiveness of trying to stifle its use.

As Eghtesad notes, Iran’s domestic exchanges shut down for less than a fortnight after the April announcement and have continued operating since.

“This is beyond the boundaries of the financial sector and is considered an industrial issue, so we can look at it as the crypto mining industry,” Hakimi added about the type of direct the discussions the September review would take.

In July, Bitcoinist reported that despite the ban, Iran could soon become forced to resort to Bitcoin due to its economic woes.

What do you think about Iran’s potential lifting of its cryptocurrency ban? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

Share
Srp 23

SEC Rejects Applications for 9 Bitcoin ETFs

The SEC has said no to applications for nine different Bitcoin ETFs. Applications came from ProShares, Direxion, and GraniteShares.  


Nine applications to list and trade different Bitcoin ETFs were rejected by the SEC, according to three different releases dated August 22nd.

The regulatory agency (predictably) rejected five proposed ETFs from Direxion, two from Proshares, and two from GraniteShares. The SEC cited concerns over fraud and manipulation as the main reasons for the rejection.

The official deadline for the ProShares decision was August 23, while GraniteShare’s offering was slated for September 15. Many were curious to see how the SEC’s decision would play out, as any sort of positive news would certainly send Bitcoin price 00 upwards.

Many were curious to see how the SEC's decision would play out, especially since any sort of positive news would certainly send Bitcoin prices trending upwards.

A Flurry Of Rejections

In each report, the SEC listed specific reasons that led them to reject each application. But in all three releases, the agency wrote:

[T]he Commission is disapproving this proposed rule change because, as discussed below, the Exchange has not met its burden under the Exchange Act and the Commission’s Rules of Practice to demonstrate that its proposal is consistent with the requirements of the Exchange Act Section 6(b)(5), in particular the requirement that a national securities exchange’s rules be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices.

The SEC also noted how none of the applications convinced them that the Bitcoin futures market was of “significant size.” According to the SEC, this failure is important because the applications have “failed to establish that other means to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices will be sufficient, and therefore surveillance-sharing with a regulated market of significant size related to bitcoin is necessary.”

However, the SEC did note:

Its disapproval does not rest on an evaluation of whether bitcoin, or blockchain technology more generally, has utility or value as an innovation or an investment.

The latest round of rejections by the SEC is nothing new to cryptocurrency enthusiasts who are excited about the idea of a Bitcoin ETF.

Echoes of Previous Rejections

The latest round of rejections by the SEC is nothing new to cryptocurrency enthusiasts who are excited about the idea of a Bitcoin ETF.

Last year, the agency rejected an ETF proposal from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, known as the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust. In July, the SEC rejected a rule change proposal the two brothers submitted after the initial rejection.

The agency said they denied the proposal due to concerns about investor protection. At the time, the regulatory body pointed out how Bitcoin was subject to fraud and manipulation carried out from offshore markets that were unregulated.

Now, all eyes are set to wait for the SEC’s decision about the CBOE Bitcoin ETF proposal. Some legal experts think the SEC will probably hold off until 2019 on making a decision about their proposal. In the meantime, CBOE has been fairly active in working with the SEC to mitigate concerns.

What do you think about the SEC’s latest rejections? Will the commission eventually approve a crypto ETF? Let us know in the comments!


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock

Share
Srp 06

South Korea’s Biggest Exchange UPbit 100% Solvent, New Report Finds

A new report from a Korean accounting firm has found the South Korean crypto exchange giant to be 100% solvent in light of recent worries about misconduct. A May raid on the company’s headquarters worried investors, who are now letting out sighs of relief as audits reinforce the company’s integrity.


A Knock at the Door

The Seoul-based company UPbit was able to prove its integrity to investors, Forbes reported on Sunday evening. The audit comes amidst a May 10th and 11th raid on the company’s Gangnam branch by Korean authorities. Forbes reports that:

As part of the raid South Korea’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), along with the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (KFIU), seized hardware and documents from UPbit to evaluate claims from unknown sources that the exchange was insolvent.

South Korea’s Financial Services Commission Announces Creation of Crypto Division

On May 11th, Bloomberg noted the already-skeptical attitude that emerged in some circles prior to the raid, saying:

Before the clampdown, South Korea was something of a ground zero for the global crypto-mania. Volume on local exchanges soared at the end of last year, with Bitcoin and other tokens fetching large premiums in the country relative to international markets. The boom alarmed officials including Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, who said that cryptocurrencies might corrupt the nation’s youth.

Subsequently, the UPbit raid served to reinforce the views of crypto-skeptics like Lee Nak-yon.

A Sigh of Relief

Bitcoinist reported that subsequent to the raid, Bitcoin 00 dipped below the $9,000 mark amid investor panic. These fears “had a knock-on effect on altcoins, with Ether (ETH) dropping 8.4% to lose $700 support while Ripple (XRP) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) both fell around 15%.”

The storm surrounding UPbit has seemed to clear, however. South Korean accounting firm Yoojin was tasked with overseeing the audits.

Still, many remained uneasy absent an official statement from the Korean government on the matter. Korean firm Dunamoo, however, has unveiled a report showing the results of the audit, which surely bode well for worried investors. Lee Seok-woo, president of Dunamoo, said:

UPbit currently has the exact amount of money held by the platform’s investors along with additional funds, more than enough to compensate every investor. Hence, UPbit is able to process withdrawals for customers upon the request of its customers and the exchange will continue to release audit reports on a regular basis to prove its solvency.

Investors will surely be able to take a deep breath as the company has assured its stakeholders that all is well. Despite proving solvency, the UPbit scare will surely leave many skeptics resigned to their positions. For the time being, however, investors are able to catch some sleep at night.

What are your thoughts on UPbit emerging unscathed from their audit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

Share